The competition for keeping your job at Investec says something depressing to the whole market

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In 30 days' time, it will be the 28th of December and most people will be loosening their belts or visiting their in-laws. But at Investec, 85 people may be losing their jobs.

As the next step in the pained fusion of Investec and Evolution Securities, Financial News reports that Investec has put 85 of its 170 London investment bankers on a 30-day consultation period, starting last week. At the end of the 30 day consultation, the implication is that these people will probably be let go.

Investec declined to comment on this particular issue, but pointed us to a statement made on the 9th of September, when it said it intended to, "...reduce aggregate investment banking headcount to avoid unnecessary overlap with its existing activities whilst maintaining an appropriately sized employee base."

There have already been rumours that Investec is planning to get rid of 140 out of 190 of Evolution's broking staff during its purchase of the broker.

What's occurring now looks like a pre-festive battle over who gets to stay in the combined organization. Headhunters predict much of the Investec blood will be let in cash equities, where Evolution staff will vanquish.

"Investec have bought Evolution for their cash equities business. There would be absolutely no point in letting the Evolution staff go," says one.

Investec's strategy is clear: it wants to be, "the leading mid-market investment bank in the UK." It's not going for league table status (it ranked 91st for European M&A, 41st for ECM and not at all for DCM): it's going for niche success.

Away from cash equities, Investec staff are thought to be safe. Evolution doesn't have a big fixed income or DCM offering, so overlaps are limited. Headhunters say it's actually a great place to work, quietly entrepreneurial and innovative. "It's a very flat structure and there's a feeling that if you're good at what you do, there's no limit to how far you can rise within the organisation," says one. "The culture is a bit like a hedge fund - everyone acts like they own the business."

The pleasant Investec culture is unlike to prove much of a palliative for its cash equities staff in the run up to Christmas. The bloodletting at the two firms also says something unpleasant about the likely outcome of consolidation in the financial services industry as a whole: combined firms must cut costs, dramatically. Unfortunately, there could be a lot more of this to come in 2012.

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